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2 police officers shot in Soulard, 1 person charged

Prosecutors charged 36-year-old Cortez Sipes with two counts of assault and armed criminal action.

ST. LOUIS — Two St. Louis police officers were shot in Soulard Thursday night.

The St. Louis Metropolitan police department said in a Friday update that one officer had been treated and released and described the other officer's condition as "stable."

Prosecutors on Friday charged 36-year-old Cortez Sipes with two counts of first-degree assault and armed criminal action. He's also charged with several additional crimes, including resisting arrest and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Department spokeswoman Evita Caldwell said the officers were attempting to pull over a Ford F150 pickup truck Sipes was driving because it was wanted in connection with a robbery just before 10:30 p.m. Thursday.

After failing to stop for the officers, Sipes crashed near Soulard Market at South 9th and Lafayette.

Police said Sipes then ran from the truck before firing shots at police as they were getting out of their patrol vehicle, hitting both officers.

The officers returned fire and struck Sipes in the ankle. He was taken into custody after collapsing in the alley. Police initially said there was a second suspect that escaped before saying there was only one person involved.

One officer is a 38-year-old man who has been with the department for 14 years, and the other officer is a 24-year-old man who has been with the department for two years. Both were struck in the side of their torso, and the 24-year-old was also struck in the arm.

They were taken to the hospital by other responding officers. One officer was taken to Barnes Jewish Hospital and the other was taken to St. Louis University Hospital.

Police released photos Friday morning that showed the suspect's recovered gun and the patrol car that was struck by gunfire.

Early Friday morning, Chief Robert Tracy said he was relieved the officers' injuries weren't worse.

"Thank God because it could be a heck of a lot worse in the situation that they were in. I appreciate the brave work the men and women in our police department do each and every day, and I hope the community appreciates that and I know they do," he said.

As of Friday morning, the 38-year-old officer had been treated and released from the hospital. Police described the 24-year-old officer's condition as "stable."

Chief Tracy spoke with the media early Friday morning, after speaking with one of the injured officers.

"He is actually a little upset that he’s been shot at, obviously, doing a job and doing a dangerous job. Being shot is not an easy thing and when I look at the pain he is in, it hurts me to the core," he said.

Sipes was treated at a hospital for his injuries and released into custody.

Credit: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department
Cortez Sipes

"It is a serious issue," Tracy said. "People that carry guns and will shoot at other citizens, shoot at police officers, have to be brought to justice, have to have consequences, and you know what, we’re going to continue to work on what we can do to keep this city safe."

Business owners in Soulard like Michael Macchi, who owns Bogart’s Smokehouse, said he started getting texts from neighbors immediately.

“Unfortunately you wake up and hear about it every day. It’s happening all over the city, last night it just happened here in Soulard," he said.

One resident saw it all happen from his balcony.

“Next thing you know, we hear a car vroom by with flashing lights, we look out the window and a car is driving past 8th Street and hops the curb and then crashes into one of the planters here at the plaza of the Market," Patrick Tetley said.

This all comes as businesses like Macchi's are preparing for big crowds for Mardi Gras in Soulard.

“I don’t think that should be a deterrent for people to come down and enjoy themselves," Macchi said.

Tetley said he's lived in Soulard for three years. He said he's never seen anything like this before.

“The city needs to do something to help," he said. "Crime has kind of increased through the area in the past year or so. That is worrisome for a big event like Mardi Gras coming up in the area.”

The Ethical Society of Police on Friday released the following statement: 

"We wish a speedy and healthy recovery to the two officers who were shot last night while attempting to take a subject into custody who was wanted for robbing a citizen in our streets. Our officers go to work every day not knowing if they're going to come back home, healthy or alive.

"Despite meager wages and blatant disrespect by our local government, these officers did the job they swore an oath to do like all the other men and women of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

"There is constant talk about accountability for police officers, but who is holding our elected officials accountable? We're not asking for double our pay like the St. Louis Alderpersons. We just want an increase in our pay, so that we can retain and recruit needed officers and dispatchers, and so all city employees feel seen and compensated instead of disrespected, overlooked, and misunderstood. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officers, dispatchers, and civilian employees — you are valued by the Ethical Society of Police. We will continue to speak out for you."

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